|It's in my dreaaaams.|
Editing. And reading. Doing both at the same time. That's usually a dangerous combination, really. After years and years of being forced to set aside "pleasure" reading for what academia threw at me, I am now totally incapable of simply "enjoying" a book. (Especially if it's you know, a horrible book, like are want to fall into my hands.) Nope. I have to analyze it every step of the way - from style, to characterization, to how many damn lines there are in the average paragraph. This wouldn't be too bad in the end, if it wasn't for the fact that I compare myself to the author I am reading every step of the way.
It doesn't even matter if I don't like the author's style, prose, or the way they treat their fans via what I've read on Wikipedia - no, I could thoroughly detest them, and I still become convinced that I'm still not good enough. This is especially bad when you write fantasy, particularly serial fantasy, because there is a very concrete standard that readers expect. Yes, you're supposed to bring "your own" to the table, but even I expect certain things from the fantasy I read: a grandiose atmosphere, a sense of urgency, sentences that blow me away and make me go "I want to write like that." And yes, I do have a very distinct writing style of my own that is not always the norm. I've assigned dashes and ellipses very solid jobs. I've become self-conscious of my overuse of three sentence paragraphs. I struggle to balance my copious amounts of dialogue in some instances with an adequate amount of prose. And yet it often feels all in vain when I pick up another (popular, of course) work and notice that I pretty much write nothing like them. Is that a good thing? Most of the time, yes, of course. But then anxiety and self-hatred set in, and I think, "I will never be as popular as this. My works will never touch anyone like this has. People are going to laugh at my style."
True? Undoubtedly, especially if my works were ever to become popular in the general writing world, let alone fantasy. Somebody will be sure to complain loudly about the way I use dashes and ellipses, somebody else will tssk at extraneous dialogue, etc etc. I'm okay with that, really. Yet that horrible sinking feeling of "NO EVERYONE WILL DO IT HAHA" is always there and inhibits my ability to proceed with my own works.
Like I said before, I've been editing. Since this was primarily a NaNoWriMo work, it's riddled with disastrous attempts at inflating word count - most specifically, adverbs. Adverbs everywhere. I feel like I need bug spray to wipe them out every time I edit. I know this is normal, every draft starts off like horrible vomit and that's the whole point of editing. But the vanity. The voice. The one that says "You will never be ready! No one will ever take you seriously!" I really, really hate that voice.
Friends, teachers, many people tell me that I'm a great writer even for my faults, that I'm on the right track. The real struggle for me is being able to believe them. Are they serious? Are they just inflating my ego? Did they even read anything? WAS I SO BAD THEY SAID SOMETHING NICE? It can't be helped. This is what happens when so much of your life revolves around writing novels. I imagine it's much the same for singers playing back a recording and shuddering, for painters stepping back from the canvas at a shared gallery and finding nothing but faults in their own works. Art is completely subjective, and that's what scares us the most.
So even though this is just one of those hurdles that I must jump over in order to fulfill my main dream in life, that doesn't mean I can't hate every minute of it. Be right back, lighting my book on fire - and then blowing out the flames while I clutch the poor draft to my chest and baaaaw it back into precious existence. RINSE AND REPEAT. WOO.